Leaving your marriage is one of the hardest decisions you will make in life. You have invested a lot in this relationship, and worked hard to save it, but you realize your conflicts are irreconcilable and you need to leave.
There is no right way to depart, but there are ways to lessen the pain and anger involved in this difficult situation. Wondering how to get out of a bad marriage successfully? Here are some tips to help get you through this time.
So how do you know when your marriage is over? How do you know when to leave a marriage?
First of all, you need to work on the relationship and give it your all as a final attempt. However, if every attempt keeps failing, know that these are signs your marriage is over.
You may try for a separation or go for a divorce when the marriage has become toxic. Also, keep in mind that unfavorable incidents and recurring conflicts are not the only signs of a failing marriage. There are many ways to identify where you stand as a couple or as an individual. Sometimes, even ending a bad marriage isn’t a solution to some of the problems.
How to know when your marriage is over – Questions to ask
Before you start divorce proceedings, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I ready to build a meaningful life as a single person, even if I never marry again?
- If you are having an affair, is your decision to end your bad marriage part of that, or would you end your marriage even if you had not met someone else?
- Are your daily thoughts occupied by getting out of the failing marriage, and do you spend a lot of time fantasizing about how much better your life will be without your spouse?
- Do you envy other couples’ relationships, and feel bad when comparing them to your own?
- Do you threaten to leave the marriage when you argue?
- Have you tried to go to couples counseling more than three times without finding help for your unhealthy marriage?
- Are you ready to leave and do you have a future plan already mapped out?
- Is it not a matter of why this needs to end but instead about when it needs to end? If yes, then you need to assess why you feel so rushed about ending the relationship.
Answering these questions will help you make a lot of decisions moving forward.
Make a decision to leave with consciousness, integrity, and respect
This means that your departure should be preceded by honest discussions with your spouse. Do not make this life-impacting decision unilaterally, even if your spouse does not agree with how you view the marriage problems.
There are two of you in the relationship and you owe it to the relationship to bring the other person into the conversation. Do not just walk out, leaving a note on the table.
Preserve your integrity and respect your spouse by having an adult conversation (several, in fact) about why this appears to be the only viable path to follow now.
Ending your bad marriage in a healthy manner will be better for any future relationships you will have, and better for any children involved.
Be clear with your intentions
Make sure that your partner understands that your decision is made and there is no chance of working things out. If you waffle during your discussion, your partner may sense an opening and try and manipulate you to stay.
Practice your departure speech, if necessary, so that you send the message that this is what you feel you need to do.
There are no set rules on how to leave a bad relationship but being clear at every stage of a relationship (even if it is ending) will be good for your mental health.
Set boundaries with future communication
Even though you are leaving your bad marriage, you and your spouse will have many conversations as you unravel the relationship. It’s best to set the boundaries of what your communications will look like.
Can you two still talk civilly? If not, perhaps a text or email will be the way you will communicate, at least in the early days.
Try to keep a “light and polite” relationship, refrain from having personal discussions where sharing feelings that may trigger arguments.
Apologize for this decision
When you recognize the signs of a bad marriage and have decided to part, do tell your spouse you are sorry for hurting them, leading them on, or getting them into this mess in the first place.
Validate that you did have some great times, but you are now on different paths.
Giving up on marriage isn’t easy for either partner at some level or the other. Try to relate to how they are feeling, and take responsibility for your part in the marriage ending. “I understand how you must be feeling, and I’m sorry that I’m responsible for this hurt.”
Express gratitude for the time you had with your spouse
If you feel this is true, thank them for all that they have shared with you. Appreciate what you have received from the relationship. Don’t let a divorce take over all the good times you shared together.
There were many good parts along the way.
Establish your priorities
If you have children, they should be your priority in this divorce. Your partner should be on the same page with this. It may be hard for you to decide how to get out of a bad relationship but it is even harder for the kids. Also, get your finances in order.
You have been thinking about leaving for a long time, but your partner is just learning about this and needs some time to process this.
Let them have their feelings; you may have already had these same emotions and gotten past them and even healed long ago.
Do not say “you need to get over this,” when your partner revisits issues even a year down the line. Their timeline is not the same as yours so be respectful of that.
Make sure you have a safe place to go
Leaving a bad marriage involves a lot of future planning, and first on your list should be setting up a place to go to. In fact, you should start thinking about it as soon as you decide on how to end a marriage. It should be a safe place, ideally somewhere where you have access to support as you transition.
If your parents are people with whom you feel you could safely stay, perhaps their home could be a temporary shelter for you. Maybe you have a friend with an extra bedroom you could rent out for a while you formulate your game plan. Or perhaps your financial situation is such that you can rent your own place.
In any case, plan for this. Do not just storm out of the house, shouting “it’s over!” You’ll find yourself with a couple of suitcases on the sidewalk and nowhere to go. Another issue that arises is when a spouse has to wonder how to get out of a bad marriage with no money.
Well, to take care of this problem, you should start planning way in advance. Have a stash that you can fall back on or have a backup of friends who are sure to help you out when you decide to end the marriage.
Getting out of a bad marriage is not easy but it’s not impossible. But with proper planning and by being mindful about the process, you can save yourself and your partner from a lot of heartache.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.